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International Women’s Day: The female CEOs of the ASX

We’ve profiled the careers and ideas of 4 of Australia’s most successful women in business as a celebration of International Women’s Day.
The post International Women’s Day: The female CEOs of the ASX appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, Motley Fool is celebrating the women running some of Australia’s top companies.

You may have read our article about gender equality within the companies of the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO). If so, we needn’t remind you of the struggle facing women when reaching for Australia’s top jobs. In fact, of Australia’s 200 most successful companies, only 10 are led by women. That number is even more shocking when considered alongside S&P Global’s research, which found female-led companies’ share prices generally perform 20% better than those of male-led companies.

Below, we’ve profiled the careers and ideas of 4 of Australia’s most successful women in business as a celebration of International Women’s Day. These women have powered through gender biases to lead some of the ASX’s top companies.

Kate Quirke – Managing Director of Alcidion Group Ltd (ASX: ALC)

With more than 25 years in the healthcare information technology sector and a wealth of experience holding leading roles at large software firms, Kate Quirke is truly accomplished. She is currently the managing director of Alcidion, a tech company creating world-leading software for health informatics and solutions.

While Alcidion is not yet listed on the ASX 200, Quirke is the only female leader on Australia’s S&P/All Technology Index (ASX: XTX).

In an interview with CEO Magazine, she spoke of how she believes approaching opportunities with confidence is the ultimate key to success.

Looking back now, I think there were a couple of things that gave me upward mobility. First, the value of education and constantly learning. Beyond a degree, education helps to understand the world around us and how to sustain it for future generations… Second, taking career risks early. My willingness to take career risks gave me the responsibility and expertise that have made me stand out from the crowd. Finally, I was fortunate to have mentors at different stages of my career development who were pivotal to my progression. Both were direct managers and pushed me into taking roles that I myself didn’t know I was ready to take on.

She added:

If I had one wish it would be that women have more belief in themselves, more confidence. Men will apply for a role when they believe they have 60% of the skills for the role whilst women will wait until they have 100%. As we get older and experienced our confidence grows, but we need to work out how to instil that in women from when they are girls.

Alison Watkins – Group Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL)

Alison Watkins’ resume is impressive. She has held the top position at Coca-Cola Amatil since 2014, one of many leadership roles she’s held in thriving companies.

Coca-Cola Amatil’s share price is currently at its highest in 8 years.

At the 2014 CEW Annual Dinner, Watkins spoke of her passion to see more women lead businesses:

I feel a strong responsibility to be successful for all the women who will become CEOs in the years to come. It is how I will contribute to changing the perceptions of what a female leader is and to accelerating the arrival of the day when the term “female CEO” doesn’t evoke any particular perceptions at all.

Shemara Wikramanayake – Managing Director and CEO of Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG)

A tale of loyalty, Shemara Wikramanayake has been with Macquarie and its divisions since 1987. She finally made it to the top job 31 years later.

Under Wikramanayake’s leadership, Macquarie’s share price has consistently risen. Today, it sits 17% higher than the day she was appointed.

In 2019, she was announced as the highest-earning CEO in Australia. The next year, she made Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Powerful Women.

In a video published by Macquarie Group for International Women’s Day 2019, Wikramanayake spoke of how the traditional gender roles in her family have been switched as a result of her success:

Our son, when he was little, and we asked him what he wants to do when he grew up, he said, “I’m going to be a normal person like my daddy,” and when I said, “What will you do for money?” he said, “My wife will work.” Whereas our daughter wanders around with her high-heel shoes and briefcase, saying “When I grow up, I’m going to be the boss of everyone.” I missed out on the time being primary carer for my children, but they are happy, well-adjusted children.

Julie Coates – Managing Director and Executive Director of CSR Ltd (ASX: CSR)

Julie Coates reached her current position as Managing Director and Executive Director of CSR in 2019.

Interestingly, she previously worked as a math teacher. Since then, she has managed HR and logistics for Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW), taken over as CEO at Big W, and held the Managing Director role at Goodman Fielder Ltd (delisted in 2015). 

In an interview with The Squiz, she spoke of her approach to raising her daughters to be strong women:

Giving them self-belief whilst keeping them grounded [is the key]. They can achieve anything but how they behave in getting there is paramount. When they travel we say, “Just remember three things: stay safe, have fun and learn lots”.

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Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Alcidion Group Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Macquarie Group Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Woolworths Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alcidion Group Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

The post International Women’s Day: The female CEOs of the ASX appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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